maybe i am naive. probably i dont understand the issue and context completely. but i agree, it is a complex issue.
my friend who just came back from china received a text message yesterday while we were watching tsai ming liang’s the wayward cloud. i for one, cant watch a movie without knowing the ending. i have this complex need to know what happens in the end. anyways, the sms read,
“a funeral for pudu jail” dear all, pudu jail wil b demolished 2moro night! let’s gather and say goodbye to our old heritage and largest mural painting wall. pls gather at hang tuah star lrt this sunday night 8pm, wear white& walk towards pudu jail n light up white candles. pls bring along any kind of materials & music instruments tat use for funeral to comemorate our precious historical building!
while i am against the state and corporations demolishing anything to build a freaking mall when there are malls on every corner of the city in spite the fact that people are still homeless, i dont think i would want to light a candle in disappointment because the state didnt declare pudu jail as a national heritage.
according to wikipedia and some other sites, pudu prison was built in 1895 in kuala lumpur and was used to house “criminals” including drug offenders and was a location for administering corporal punishment by rotan caning. The canings were administered in a special “caning area”, so marked, not inside the building but in the grounds. It is no longer used as a prison and while it was once open as a museum, it is currently a police station and can be viewed only from the outside.
as an individual, firstly, i am totally against putting drug users in prison. why the hell are they even sentenced to jail? and this prison has incarcerated so many drug users. over time, i have also developed anti prison politics. i have heard way too many stories from friends who were in prison to at least understand that it is a horrible horrible place.
anyways, we went into this discussion while we were watching the movie. i was trying understand why were these people so upset about this prison being demolished. i honestly wanted to understand cos you know, i dont know if i understood the issue. their rationale was that it is an old building and it has so much of h*story (as i mentioned earlier it was built before world war 2) and the state should have declared the prison as a national heritage. they also said, the place has so much stories to tell; people were tortured in the prison so the place should be preserved so that the future generation would know this place. like the torture chamber in poland.
there is also this huge mural of the walls of pudu prison. apparently, the mural was painted by prisoners and is recognised by the Guinness Book of Records as the first, largest and longest in the world.
i dont really care to be honest if the pudu prison is declared as a national heritage or not. i am a lot more frustrated with this constant building of malls in every corner of the city. the closest mall from pudu prison is 400 meters away. 6 minutes of walk. do we really need another mall? do we really need to consume more than we already have? besides the fabulous idea of the mall, they also demolished the prison to make way for a road expansion and tunnel project in Jalan Pudu. this project will cost 83.7 million ringgit. according to the developers who have bought that piece of land, Uda Holdings, a RM5 billion redevelopment project has been planned, which will have 1,100 condominium, hotel, office and commercial lots.
you know this; i dont have to break this news to you. there so many people with no homes in that area. they have no homes, no jobs but it is okay we should go ahead with building all these condos and hotels for expats and middle class folks.
anyways, before i go on and on. i guess it is how you place your place arguments. while we all agree that this is screwed up but what is important is why do we think it is. if you are some artsy fartsy persyn who thinks that the mural should be preserved and so the demolition should have not taken place, then so be it. i, on the other hand, am this crazy persyn who thinks that rampant development as such is crazy. we dont need more hotel and condos. working class people and classless people such as myself cant afford things like these. they are made for a segment of people in this society. even if i could afford it, i dont think it is needed anyways.